Biosimilars to take over in 5 yrs

The Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council had set itself a target of exports of $32 billion exports by 2014, which it has now postponed by a year. In an interview with Trushna Udgirkar, P V Appaji says India would be known for biotechnology and biosimilars in the coming five years. Excerpts:

Where does India stand in the global pharma market?

India is the third largest player in the world with 500 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). And it ranks fourth globally in terms of production volumes. India also ranks highest with 35 per cent share in filings of DMF filed with USFDA, as it sells 15 per cent of generics by volumes in the USA.

Why has there been a delay in the set target?

A lot companies in Andhra Pradesh, which is the hub of manufacturing, have faced troubles due to lack of power. Exports from here are affected by at least 5 per cent or even more. APIs require more power consumption and this state alone contributed one third of total API exports. Also, adding to it are other reasons like the slowdown in economic growth. This year we hope to export up to $ 17-18 billion, against $13.4 billion last year.

How does China pose a competition to India?

China has come up with much better capacities, especially for vaccines and the domestic industry is not likely to gear up to match them yet. Their advantage is the government and banks have played a crucial role. In fact India imports a lot of intermediaries for APIs from China. We should also look at increasing our exports to them.

What role do small and medium business units play in growth?

SMEs have a good growth because the markets that they cater to are growing, better than their larger counterparts. While five years ago they did not know the market, now they contribute as much as 30 per cent. Their competitive advantage is pricing and newer modifications in line with the demands.

Which are the major growth regions for Indian pharma exports?

Over 55 per cent of our exports are to the highly regulated markets, of which the US takes away 25 per cent and EU around 19 per cent. Asia and the Gulf region account for up to 15 per cent, LAC 6.7 per cent, Asean 6.53 per cent and CIS 6.5 per cent.

How would you look at promoting brand India?

Apart from our routine initiatives we are now holding an exhibition that brings together Indian pharmaceutical, healthcare industry and international buyers under one roof. Secondly, India has to look at improving capacities to be the leader. Another serious issue is the misconception that India makes spurious drugs. Almost 50 per cent of the consignments are more or less intentionally maligned and we are looking at it whenever we receive a report.

What is the further scope for India?

The global industry is now also outsourcing patented APIs. Companies here manufacture the entire stage and the ultimate or the niche stage is taken over by them. Similarly, biotech and biosimilars, which are in infancy, will take over in the next five years.


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